Central Private 27, Prairie View 20
CENTRAL — Prairie View's furious fourth quarter comeback came up short Friday night in a 27-20 loss to Central Private.
Leading 27-8 early in the fourth quarter, the Rebels appeared to have their homecoming game in hand after Cody Sharpe's fumble recovery ended a Prairie View threat at the 7.
Prairie View's defense then forced a three and out, and the Spartans regained possession at the Central Private 43 following a punt.
On second-and-eight, Tanner Caldwell's one-handed catch in traffic was good for a first down at the 20.
With the Spartans facing fourth-and-five from the 15, quarterback Hayes Crockett ran for the end zone, trimming the deficit to 27-14.
Central Private's next series was derailed by a 15-yard dead ball foul, but Jace Pendarvis' 51-yard punt backed the Spartans up to their own 18.
A pair of 7-yard passes to Caldwell and an 18-yard run by Layton Rainbolt put the Spartans at midfield. Crockett then dropped back to pass, avoided the sack, ran 20 yards to his left, reversed field, avoided a tackler at the 30 and won a foot race to the right pylon for his third touchdown of the evening. The try for two was unsuccessful, but the Spartans were suddenly within striking distance at 27-20.
Upon covering the ensuing squib kick, the Rebels started from their own 31.
Two handoffs to Cole Averette netted 17 yards as the clock ticked away.
Austin Carroll then pounced on a fumbled snap at the Central Private 45, giving the Spartans a chance to complete the miraculous comeback.
Two plays later, Averette's 7-yard sack brought up fourth-and-14 from the Rebels' 49, before a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
Central Private (6-2) took three snaps to run out the remaining time.
Taking over on downs at the Prairie View 40, the Rebels scored on their third play from scrimmage as Averette bolted 20 yards up the middle. Kaleb Fontenot's 2-point pass to Luke Restivo brought the score to 8-0.
Prairie View (6-2) drew even after Carroll forced a fumble and Tyler Peters made the recovery at the Central Private 39.
Rainbolt ran for 12 yards and Kentrell Spencer came down with an over-the-shoulder catch before his momentum carried him out of bounds inside the 1. Crockett punched it in from there and tacked on the conversion to tie the game 8-8 with 7:05 to play in the first quarter.
Averette's 54-yard dash on the next play from scrimmage put the Rebels back in front. Kolton Farrar blocked the extra point, leaving the score at 14-8.
After a scoreless second quarter, the Rebels took charge early in the second half.
Receiving the opening kickoff, Central Private traveled 65 yards on 12 plays.
A pass interference penalty on third-and-nine kept the drive alive and the Rebels methodically plodded upfield from there, with Averette powering in from a yard out.
Pendarvis hammered the ensuing kickoff into the end zone, and the Spartans began their initial series of the half from the 20.
Following an empty possession, Blake Kolb blocked the Spartans' punt and the Rebels took over at the 5.
Keeping on the option, Kolb took it in on the next offensive snap to put Central Private up 27-8 midway through the third quarter.
Holding a decisive 71-42 edge in offensive plays, the Spartans out-gained the Rebels 407-261.
Averette was Central Private's workhorse, tallying 161 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.
Crockett (20 carries, 120 yards, 3 TDs) and Rainbolt (20-114) both went over the 100-yard mark. Through the air, Crockett was 13-of-29 for 178 yards, including seven passes to Caldwell for 88 stripes.
Carroll had a big game defensively for the Spartans with a team-high nine tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Prairie View hosts River Oaks with the MAIS District 5-2A championship on the line, Friday at 7 p.m.